BBC Four Acquires UK Rights To History’s ‘Roots’ Reboot

RootsHistory’s Roots reboot has found a UK home.

BBC Four has acquired the exclusive first run UK broadcast rights to the four-part/six-hour miniseries, which is based on both the original novel and the award winning 1977 TV adaptation, after striking a deal with A+E Networks, TVWise has learned.

This all-important UK deal for Roots, which was brokered for the BBC by Head of Acquisitions Sue Deeks, comes after A+E has sold the miniseries into more than 220 territories since launching it to international buyers at MIPTV in April. Notably this is a rare U.S. acquisition for the BBC; whose only other U.S. scripted drama is the FX Networks anthology series American Crime Story, which airs on BBC Two.

“Roots is a tremendous historical saga with great emotional impact. Both production and cast are superb, especially the two young British leads, Malachi Kirby (Kunta Kinte) and Rege-Jean Page (Chicken George)”, Sue Deeks said. “Viewers that remember the original series will be fascinated by the new material that has been uncovered over the intervening years, and new viewers will become engrossed by this compelling television event for their own generation.”

Roots tell the story of a historical journey of one family and their will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte, who is captured in his homeland of The Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America, where he’s sold into slavery. Throughout the series, the family continues to face adversity while bearing witness and contributing to notable events in U.S. history, including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings and eventual emancipation.

Malachi Kirby takes on the lead role of Kunta Kinte – the part played by LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) in the 1970s miniseries. Other cast members include Laurence Fishburne (Hannibal), Forest Whitaker (Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior), Anna Paquin (True Blood), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Dracula), Anika Noni Rose (The Good Wife), Chad L. Coleman (The Walking Dead), Erica Tazel (Justified), Derek Luke (Captain America: The First Avenger) and Regé-Jean Page (Waterloo). The new take on Roots was produced by A+E Studios alongside The Wolper Organization – the company that produced the original. Mark Wolper and Will Packer serve as executive producers; while LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins co-executive produce.

  • Popeye13

    Also surprising is that A&E UK have a first dibs agreement with their parent company so why this didn’t go to History UK or Lifetime UK is kinda strange but good buy for the BBC!

    • You’re right, A+E Networks UK do have a first look deal – but (I did some digging on this on June) like UnREAL they let 1st window go elsewhere as it was a better deal. In both instances A+E Networks UK are getting 2nd window instead

      • Popeye13

        Still kind of damning for the sister company to get shunted aside for a sale though.

  • ekelks

    It’s a brilliant series.